Executive Intelligence Review
Subscribe to EIR

PRESS RELEASE


Obama Under Fire from Governors, Dem Senators, Police, Medics for FDA’s Fostering Opioid Addiction and Death

Feb. 23, 2016 (EIRNS)—Obama and his Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are under fire for persisting in their practice of rubber-stamping Big Pharma’s production of addictive and deadly opioid painkillers, and pushing them on medics to over-prescribe. For months, Federal and state lawmakers have appealed to the FDA and other agencies to stop this. There has been a rise in opioid overdoses (up 200 percent since 2000) linked to the rising rate of opioid pill prescriptions for painkillers.

Obama rebuffed an appeal made to him yesterday at the National Governors Association event in Washington, D.C., to have the FDA imposer tighter controls on the prescription opioids. Obama duplicity said,

“If we go to doctors right now and say, ‘Don’t overprescribe,’ without providing some mechanisms for people in these communities to deal with the pain that they have or the issues that they have, then we’re not going to solve the problem, because the pain is real, the mental illness is real.”

Yesterday, three Senators held a press conference slamming Obama’s FDA—Edward Markey (D-MA), Joe Manchin (D-W VA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). They publicized the crisis, on the eve of today’s Senate vote to confirm Obama’s new choice to head the FDA, Dr. Robert Califf. Last month, both Markey and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) put procedural holds on the nomination of Califf, who is currently deputy FDA commisioner, because of his close ties to Big Pharma.

Markey said,

“We need the leader of the FDA to be a tough cop on the beat, not a rubber stamp approving the latest Big Pharma painkillers that are the cause of this deadly scourge of opioid addiction and overdoses. The FDA must begin by agreeing to convene advisory committees for all opioid approval decisions, period. We are hemorrhaging lives by the day, and reforming the FDA is the first step needed to staunch the flow of suffering and death.”

Manchin said,

“With 51 Americans dying every day due to an opioid overdose, the FDA now more than ever needs a champion who is committed to changing the way the agency handles opioids.”

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Yahoo News reports, 47,055 people died from a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2014—more than any other year on record. Some 61% of those fatal overdoses involved opioids, mostly prescription painkillers such as OxyContin or Percocet, and heroin.

According to a release from Markey’s office, the FDA has approved 11 so-called “abuse-deterrent opioids” (a term Markey calls an oxymoron) since 2010. Of those 11, the FDA sought advisory committees’ advice on only four, in many cases even after “warnings from the medical community about potential abuse—concerns borne out by subsequent experience with the drugs.”

Before arriving at the FDA last September, Califf spent years at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which, unlike most academic research institutions, gets 60% of its finances from industry, according to the Triangle Business Journal. Califf’s financial disclosure lists seven drug companies and a device maker that paid him for consulting, and six others—including Merck, Novartis, and Eli Lilly—which supported his university salary, according to Sanders.